For fans of one of the most expressive forms of music known to man, it would appear strange that there has never been an awards ceremony to celebrate all that is great and good about opera. Businessman Harry Hyman, a prolific opera fan who attends some 30 different operas a year, has thus taken matters into his own hands, to create what he hopes will become the Oscars of the opera world. Accordingly, The Luxury Channel was invited to the inaugural Opera Awards, held at London’s Hilton Park Lane Hotel.
Recognising the considerable achievements of opera stars across the globe, the Awards were divided into 22 categories, decided by a panel of 10 expert judges, including John Allison, editor of Opera Magazine, Kathryn Harries, director of National Opera Studio, and celebrated soprano Dame Anne Evans. There was also one final Readers’ Award, voted for by the public. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann walked away with the accolade.
The night was a good one for the German singer, who also picked up the coveted award for Male Singer. Soprano Nina Stemme won the award for Female Singer (watch the winners receiving their awards here).
Other awards to note include popular choice Antonio Pappano for Conductor, and Antony McDonald for Set Designer. McDonald was in a jovial mood when The Luxury Channel caught up with him at the preceding drinks reception. Commenting on how opera should become increasingly less elitist, this was a view shared by several of his peers, including Harry Hyman himself, and Opera Ambassador Nicky Spence. Fans of McDonald’s work will be pleased to hear he is currently preparing a Northern Ireland tour of The Importance of Being Earnest in October. Surely a recipe for a great, comedic opera – book early to avoid disappointment!
Hosted by BBC regular Nicholas Owen, the Awards were interspersed with dramatic performances from National Opera Studio. These young stars – still completing their training – showed exceptional promise.
Whilst on the subject of young talent, it is worth noting that the money raised from the evening goes towards The Opera Awards Foundation, which seeks to provide grants for young people pursuing a career within the many facets of opera, from singing to set design.
With all the glamour one would expect from an awards evening focussed on opera (and with over 700 people in attendance), it would seem that the Opera Awards will grow to become a benchmark for the industry, generating increased interest and investment in the music and in the stars themselves. That, surely, is the legacy that Harry Hyman had been hoping for.